We are so excited by the progress made in 2013 and looking forward to everything 2014 brings in the journey of The Garden! After 2012 was spent setting up our eco-house and basic infrastructure, 2013 was the year we really began development of The Garden, as I left my previous job and moved to South Africa to focus on pursuing our dreams ….. A lot of planning has taken place and The Garden is taking shape …..

The river path has been completely cleared and it is a pleasure to walk along enjoying the whole length of the river, which is beginning to flow clean and clear thanks to Angus’ tireless work …. The first picnic spot is almost ready; its slate and stone staircase and platform, gently landscaped surrounds with plenty of rose geranium and pennyroyal, and softly flowing water make a stunning spot which delights all the senses.

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Our Time Garden, a circular garden full of aloes with a centrepiece sundial, is also now complete. The linked Zen Garden, Meditation Garden and Eternity Garden are in progress … and initial work on the Baltic labyrinth will be completed in early 2014 after which it will be available for all to walk and enjoy.

We established our veggie production with a 12m tunnel and a full irrigation system and run-off holding dam. Dealing with soils high in clay content has been challenging and we have added over 15m3 of organic matter to enrich the soil, better hold the water, and encourage worm life. And we have created various organic formulas to deal with our plentiful hungry bugs/pests, including use of garlic, ginger, chilli and EM (Effective Micro-organisms). We have planted 30 fruit trees around our house, which in a couple of years will be producing fruit, and will also form the mother stock from which we will take cuttings to slowly establish our larger orchard. And we have enjoyed the first honey from our bees as they build up their reserves.

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We expanded our irrigation system to make better use of gravity feed, and automated it to be more water-wise. A lot of maintenance is required to keep paths and firebreaks clear and alien plants under control, and endless hours this year have been spent cutting and clearing, while maintaining and fixing our cheap second hand TLB has been another ongoing and time-consuming challenge!

We have established our website, Facebook page and online community, and are enjoying meeting and staying in touch with a growing number of people interested in The Garden and our vision and values. Our online shop is up and running and selling a range of beautiful gifts sourced from India, including incense and prayer flags, thangkas, tingsha bells and singing bowls, loose leaf organic and herbal teas and natural perfume. In October we participated in Soul Space (www.soulspace.co.za), an amazing event bringing together Joburg’s spiritual community. We met so many wonderful people and had a great time introducing The Garden, serving hot teas in our “concept” teahouse and selling our gifts … and we look forward to staying in touch with the Soul Space community.

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2013 was a great year for travel …. We spent 6 weeks in India, 3 in meditation and 3 on the road sourcing for our shop; as always, time in India was life-changing and enriching and it was amazing to be back in Delhi and Dharamsala, and to make new friends. We also traveled to the UK in August, re-connecting with family and friends there and attending 2 weddings, but making time also to visit Glastonbury, the Sustainability Centre and lots of eco-cafes gathering ideas for The Garden, and to take a reiki course.

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At home, a larger solar power system has increased the amount of power we have in our eco-home and decreased costs from the occasional use of the generator. We installed a new filtration system for our drinking water, work on the roof has helped to keep things cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and we upgraded our fireplace for the winter to keep us cosy and warm burning wood from the alien trees we are slowly eradicating.

We continue to learn about all aspects of the business and sustainable living – from organic veggie production to the meaning of thangkas, from the origins of the tea ceremony to South Africa’s business and importer laws and regulations, from bee diseases to building with slate, from establishing an online presence to designing a perfect meditation spot. And we continue to meet many people in South Africa and around the world who support us and our vision. These learnings and these people enrich our journey and we continue to love our work and feel grateful every day to have the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to creating this sanctuary.  We are filled with enthusiasm and excitement for the coming year, and look forward to sharing our further progress as the year unfolds!

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